Update (16/10/15): Grid Access now has an official rule instead, overriding the need for a houserule.
Less houserules and mostly food for thought here.
There’s a few things in Shadowrun that come included with a Lifestyle. Your default clothing, your nights out, having a bank account and so forth. Heck even the Grid(s) you have access to. Now what does it cost when you want more?
Example: Runner goes to a nice restaurant to have a meal and drinks with a contact they’re friends with. Do they pay for it, and if so what, or does it count as something they can occasionally afford simply as part of their Lifestyle?
In SR4 you had 5 categories and each category included a whole bunch of stuff. SR5 originally started without custom lifestyles, which led to complications. How would you work with food allergies for example? With SR4 you could say ’50-50 chance at Middle that you avoid your allergy with your latest meal’. With SR5 I used to give an advise on how much money I’d charge, but Run Faster added explicit rules for these: It’s extra potential fatigue damage instead.
Going out used to be included in a category, nowadays there’s Lifestyle Qualities for being a bar patron or attending Nightclubs so that takes care of those. Still, there’s room for a few more things. For example, what does it cost to go to a restaurant every now and then? Would a runner have to pay, or is it automatically absorbed by your lifestyle payments? Eating out is 10 nuyen, but a good meal is 50 nuyen. When would you let them pay for their costs during a run?
Well a cheap meal + drinks would be absorbed by going out a night less, while for better stuff you’d better have a good lifestyle or it’s not absorbed. A rule of thumb could be a 1% rule: If it’s >1%, it doesn’t get absorbed. So a fancy meal of 50 nuyen is absorbed by Middle+.
What about the custom lifestyles? Well the 1%-rule ties us to specific lifestyles normally. We could connect this to general comfort+necessities levels, since those include food and water. So 50 nuyen is the cap for C&N3. Meaning if you raise C&N of your Low Lifestyle to Middle, it covers a more expensive meal / night out. The three special Lifestyles have related values, plus they already count as normal Lifestyles as well. (Middle+ also works with Commercial when it comes to Lifestyle upgrades.)
Clothing is no longer a problem, due to Run Faster including rules for buying clothes. Twice even, both in the Lifestyle section and in the Buying Stuff tables near the end. Of course the next question would be, if you do a sport or something, again how much is absorbed by your lifestyle? I’d go with the same rule for that.
Grids! Grids are complicated! Let’s start with a bank account instead…
You need a Low Lifestyle for a bank account. Then how would a Squatter get one, or Street? How would you get a second one? Well in SR4 we had electronic stuff being part of 1 out of 5 categories, so a 10% cost for all electronic stuff such as your trid-access would seem fair back then. Say 5% of a Low Lifestyle, so 100 nuyen/month, for each bank account above 1 (and above 0 if you’re Street/Squatter)?
Lifestyle determines what Grid you have access to. How do you get a better one? It MIGHT be in Data Trails, haven’t fully read the book yet, but I couldn’t find it while searching through it. Update: Hard Targets now has a rule for this.
Assuming there’s none, I’d go with 5% of the Lifestyle cost (like why a bank account would be 5% of a Low Lifestyle’s costs). So to get access to a Grid, pay 5% of the lowest Lifestyle that qualifies for it.
Since there is no separate Entertainment section anymore, just spending points on it, it could be a point-thing instead. So 1 Lifestyle point, 5% cost normally, free if your Lifestyle is high enough. (So if you’re High, you can also get access to the Middle Grid (Emerald? I forget, it’s in the core book somewhere) for free except that it costs a Lifestyle Point, while an upgrade to a better Grid costs money.)
And since we’re on the electronic subject: Commcodes! A commcode is basically an e-mail-address-meets-phone-number. You can have multiple commcodes linking to your commlink so you don’t give out the same number to everyone while still receiving calls from all of them. Added bonus is that you can change a commcode so it no longer works, making them the equivalent of a burner phone without having to buy a new commlink. By the way, yes criminal phone companies exist so you can keep your data out of the hands of the pigs.
In SR4 there were rules on how many commcodes you had based on Lifestyle and I do like that method. So I’d go with 0.1% of your Lifestyle costs, meaning 2 for Low, 1 for Squatter, 0 for Street, 5/10/bazillion for the higher Lifestyles, being able to change that many each month as well (the same one multiple times, or all of them once). And yes, here I’d actually treat Commercial and Traveler as different from their base Lifestyles. A company needs its own commcodes after all. The 0 for Street here means ‘only the fixed one the comm came with, no changing them’. And no, Dwarves/Trolls don’t get extra commcodes and sharing doesn’t cut into it: Base costs.
All in all we’d get the following possible rules as rule of thumbs to consider when your runner wants something and you’re curious as to whether they should pay for it or get to roll it up in their Lifestyle:
Rule: Comforts & Necessities level determines when meal/drink/going-out expenses are absorbed by the lifestyle during a run or during downtime
Rule: Comforts & Necessities level determines the same for activity-expenses such as sport, racing, writing, playing music, etcetera
Rule: Additional bank accounts cost ¥100/month each
Rule: Additional Grids cost 5% of the lowest Lifestyle level that qualifies for them
Rule: Additional Grids cost 1 Lifestyle Point, cost 5% of the minimum unless you’re at/above that level
Rule: Base Lifestyle determines how many commcodes you have/can change
One bonus thing to think about: We used to be able to permanently buy 1 of the 5 Lifestyle categories rather than the entire thing in one go, which led to wonky costs and wonky situations. How would you work with it now? One possible thought is that a Permanent Lifestyle is 100x the cost, so 1% interest per month. Maybe investments could also be like that. I got 1 player who wants to invest in a contact’s business so I got to think about this now, currently at the following rough draft:
Tablerule: Investments cost multiples of 10k, with a minimum of 50k, and are 1% interest per month
So if he invests 50k, he’ll get 500 nuyen each month. Invest 100k and it’s 1k each month. Better make sure the investment stays safe though…